Ed. at Stanford, CA; Degree in Mechanical Engineering
[His father, also Walter, was a businessman and movie-theatre owner, mayor of Rock Island from 1923 to 1927 who then served as Diirector of Public Works and Buildings in the Governor's office from 1940. He died in 1959.]
Prev. an Airline Pilot for United. 2nd Lieut. in the US Army, then a Reserve Officer from 1937
Prev. Exp. 1,950hrs on "Monocoupe, Moth, Travel-Air (also BT-9, BT-14, O-47, BT-2, BC-1, O-46 while in US Army)
Address in 1941: 1603 Mill St., Rock Island, IL (father's address)
Postings: 3FPP, 4FPP
"A competent pilot and excellent all-round officer [but] does not wish to renew his ATA contract"
He wrote home in May 1941:
"I finished all of the school at White Waltham, and was posted there for a while, but later, after trying to get posted up in Scotland (I made a few flights up there and liked it so much I thought it better than England). I was sent to a pool at an airdrome in Cheshire - I lived in Chester which is a very picturesque place - awfully cold - and about twenty miles form Liverpool - just far enough to escape most of the danger of the Merseyside raids but not far enough to escape the noise and bright lights. I was in Chester until April 21 when I was transferred up here to Scotland.
The work I did while I was in Chester was very interesting and the best experience I could have gotten anywhere - I flew almost everything there was, from single-seater Spitfire and Hurricane to Blenheims, Hampdens and Wellingtons - also, some of the latest USA 'attack bombers' which I like best of all - they really are wonderful not only from the performance angle, but also in pilot comfort and cockpit layout - even the English pilots, who are naturally inclined to favor their own products, are impressed by them.
The navigation over here is gradually becoming easier for me. I was very careful at first, but now it is much better since I've learned the country, and can get around pretty well without much map reference. The other day I hd a ship to deliver over to Ireland and on the way down I reached a speed of a little over [censored] - first time for me. There wasn't much of a sensation, but I did cover a lot of territory in a hurry - I thought of the times when I'd had Gabe's Moth up to 110 mph and thought that was pretty fast (and I guess it was, for the Moth).
Just before I got transferred up here to Scotland I had a couple of days leave - just missed the Belfast blitz by a few hours and as I had to go to London on business, I decided I'd risk it and stay the night there (London). Well, as things happened, they had the heaviest raid of the war that night (Wed April 16). It was an experience I'll never forget, but don't want to go through again. I stayed at a west end hotel, which was in the midst of the whole thing, and was in a cab during part of it. In spite of everything I went to my room on the fifth floor and went to bed about 1:30 am - woke up with plaster and glass all over the bed and floor (I guess I'm a heavy sleeper after all).
The next morning people were going to work as usual, the shops were open for business, even with the fronts blown down, and you had to walk by burning buildings and piles of wreckage out of which they were still rescuing people and removing bodies. It was horrible in some respects, but damn fine in another sense, and made me feel sort of proud I was helping out a bit.
I like it up here in Prestwick (it's about twenty-five miles south of Glasgow, right on the coast). It's very quiet, no air raid alarms since I've been here. I'm living in a hotel right on the beach. On a clear morning you can look out of the window and see the island of Arran and sometimes clear across to Ireland. I had a day's leave and went to Glasgow, but there wasn't much to do, except see movies. I'm going over to Edinburgh next week. They say it's much nicer. There are six other Americans here, two from California, one from Arkansas, one from Denver, and one from Florida. We all live in the same place, and at times it is pretty much of a madhouse - we call it 'Little America'.
Penn Wilson, the boy from Arkansas, was ferrying a Hurricane the day after the Clydeside raid (Glasgow) and had his engine catch on fire. Her didn't know what was the matter, and as he puts it , "I bailed out once down in Mississippi and didn't like it much", so he landed it burning in a pasture and walked away from it unscratched just before the petrol tanks blew up. Afterwards they inspected the remains and found it was full of bullet holes and German slugs - he'd been shot down and didn't know it. All he had to say was, "Guess I'm just a clay pigeon" - but I notice he's careful how high he flies, now.
I'm not sure how long I'll be here. The work is slowing down a bit, and it is pretty dull when there are no jobs. I've been offered the chance of doing some of the trans-Atlantic ferrying and am thinking seriously of taking it, if things don't get busier. It's not as risky as this job, I don't think, at least during the summer months, and I could get home quite a lot.
I'm feeling fine, and while the food situation is serious, I'm getting plenty, and eating (and liking) things I never would t home. Also, they have double daylight savings here, so that it is daylight until about midnight - very strange to go to bed with the sun shining brightly at 10 pm."
Back home with his father Walter Snr. 30 Dec 1941 (3 weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor) - Rock Island Argus
Later a Lt-Col in tthe USAAF, a test pilot on U-2s (he "flew missions overseas, including Russia"). He also tested century-series fighters and bailed out of an F-100 into a swamp in 1958.
He retired from the USAAF in 1964 after 25 years and 14,000 hrs in 160 aircraft, and then joined Air America, flying supplies to special forces in Vietnam and Laos.
He was the inspiration for the book "Air America" by Christopher Robbins (later a movie).
d. 6 Mar 1999 - Green Valley, AZ.
Buried Chippiannock Cemetery, Rock Island.